Evan Longoria, David Price Still Considered Franchise Building Blocks

By David Hill

Yesterday, we looked into potential players for the Rays that could be named as franchise players, a hypothetical situation created if every player was to be in a common draft pool, with the thought of finding that cornerstone for the next ten years. Last season, Evan Longoria went fifth in the ESPN exercise, and David Price was selected 25th. This time through, Longoria once again seemed like a lock to make the list again this year, as he is once again in the midst of another typically strong season. Price, meanwhile, struggled before getting injured, which may have lowered his stock enough to drop him outside the top thirty.

This year, both players were selected once again. Longoria was selected sixth by Dave Cameron, selecting him over Troy Tulowitzki or Giancarlo Stanton. Cameron explained his selection, stating that:

"“For me, this came down to Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki, or Giancarlo Stanton, each of whom are great when they are on the field, but each come with some injury concerns. Longoria’s health issues scare me a little less than Tulowitzki’s, though, and he’s a better player right now than Stanton due to his tremendous defensive value. I love all of them, but I’ll take the safest road and build my franchise around a 27-year-old superstar in his prime.”"

The injury concerns with Longoria are definitely there, as he missed 26 games with an oblique strain in 2011 and another 85 games last season with a hamstring injury. However, when healthy, Longoria is a top third baseman both offensively and defensively, presently ranking fourth amongst third basemen in Wins Above Replacement. For proof of Longoria’s ability to transform a franchise, one only needs to look to last season, when the Rays were 41-44 without him in the lineup, yet 49-28 when he was healthy.

Price just made it, being selected with the thirtieth and final selection in the draft by Keith Law. Law felt that the injury, and not Price’s poor start to the season, was the reason behind his drop, stating that:

"“Price is the best player still available by far, and probably only here because he’s on the disabled list.”"

It will be interesting to see if other teams still feel the same about Price if he pops up on the trade block. His performance when he returns will likely go a long way to how he would be perceived. If he continues to struggle, and puts up, by his standards, mediocre numbers, then any theoretical return would be decreased. However, if he gets back to the form he has displayed over the past three years, then this injury could be considered a minor blip on the radar.

This season, ESPN also added an informal Round Two, and two more Rays were selected. Matt Moore was taken 32nd, and Wil Myers went 53rd. Moore was selected on the thought that he could possibly be the best pitcher in baseball over the next five years, while Myers was taken based on his power potential, being referred to as a ‘prototypical slugging right fielder.’ These selections help illustrate the high regard for both the Rays present and future.

What do you all think? Is there a Rays player that you feel should have been selected amongst the top 60 that had not been chosen? Let us know in the comments.